New Calais, Louisiana
New Calais (/nuː ˈkæleɪ/ or /nuː ˈkleɪ; French: La Nouvelle-Calais [la nuvɛlˈkæleɪ]) is the second largest city in the state of Louisiana. The population of the city was 419,568 as of the 2010 U.S. Census, technically making it the Largest populated non-metropolitan area in the state.
The city is named after the city of Calais, as it was established by French colonists who hailed from and strongly influenced by their European namesake. Despite its size it is not particularly well known outside the state of Louisiana, though those that do recognize it for its distinct French architecture, as well as its cross-cultural and multilingual heritage, which rival those of New Orleans. Sadly the city, when mentioned at all, is often referred to as the “most dangerous” in the American South.
New Calais is located in central Louisiana, bordered by the Bayou Plaquemine to the west and the Mississippi River to the east. The city is also home to a number of Native American burial mounds, though most have been lost to colonial development, many still stand in parks within the city and the Bayous to its east and west.
Before Hurricane Katrina, Iberville Parish was the second most populous parish in Louisiana. It now ranks first.
New Calais is located at 30° 10’ 47.1534"N, -91° 15’ 59.6838"W on the banks of the Mississippi River in southeastern Louisiana, approximately 227 miles upriver from the Gulf of Mexico. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 80 square miles, of which 74 square miles is land and 6 square miles (.75%) is water.
The city is located in the Mississippi River Delta on the east and west banks of the river and on its coastal plain.
New Calais was originally settled far inland closer to the Plaquemine Bayou, among a number of Native Burial Mounds.
Vertical cross-section of New Calais, showing maximum height of 23 feet A recent study by Talbot and Xavier University notes that 91% of New Calais is at or above sea level, with the more densely populated areas generally on higher ground. The average elevation of the city is currently at 23 feet though the regions closer to the river including Midland and Overbend as low as 3 feet below sea level in the farthest reaches of Eastern New Calais.
|Wilson Blackwell Tower||21||227 ft|
|Fairbanks Hotel||14||211 ft|
Districts and Neigborhoods
The Central Business District of New Calais is located immediately East of Dulac Park , and was historically called “Calais Proper”. It was developed after the heart of French settlement, which is further west and survives as the “Old Calais” and “West Clay” districts, began expanding eastward and includes Lafayette Square. Most streets in this area fan out from a central point in the city. Major streets of the area include Park Street, Plaquemine Street, Talbot Avenue and Fairbanks Avenue, With Park Street functioning as the divide between the traditional “downtown” area (referred to as Proper) from the “uptown” area (referred to as the Park District).
Every street crossing Park Street between the Mississippi River and Rampart Street, which is the northern edge of Calais Proper, has a different name for the “Park” and “Proper” portions and serves as the dividing point between the “South” and “North” portions of various streets. In the local parlance Downtown means “Calais Proper and south”, while Uptown means “Park District and Cornish Park”. Downtown neighborhoods include the Spanish Quarter, Skemp Park (Northern Green Lawn), Green Lawn, Pershing Boulevard (North East West Clay), West Clay, and Southland (Southern Midland). Uptown neighborhoods include the Park District, Stonybrook, Old Calais, Cornish Park, German Cross (Northern Midland) , Talbot University, Bishopsgate, and Creole Road. However, the Financial District and Calais Proper, despite being North of German Cross, are frequently called “Downtown” as a specific region, as in the Downtown Development District.
Other major districts within the city include Overbend and Northridge.
The climate of New Calais is humid subtropical (Köppen climate classification Cfa), with short, generally mild winters and hot, humid summers. The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 53.4 °F in January to 83.3 °F in July and August. The lowest recorded temperature was 6 °F on January 30, 1898.67 The highest recorded temperature was 105 °F on July 5, 2011.67 Dewpoints in the summer months are relatively high, ranging from 71.0 °F to 73.4 °F.
The average precipitation is 62.7 inches annually; the summer months are the wettest, while October is the driest month.71 Precipitation in winter usually accompanies the passing of a cold front. On average, there are 77 days of 90 °F+ highs, 8.1 days per winter where the high does not exceed 50 °F (10 °C), and 8.0 nights with freezing lows annually; in a typical year the coldest night will be around 30 °F (−1 °C).72 It is rare for the temperature to reach 100 °F (38 °C) or dip below 25 °F (−4 °C).
Hurricanes pose a modest threat to the area, though the city is at risk because of its low elevation. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, New Calais only partially vulnerable city to hurricanes. Notably portions of Greater New Calais have been flooded by: the Grand Isle Hurricane of 1909, the New Orleans Hurricane of 1915, 1947 Fort Lauderdale Hurricane, Hurricane Flossy in 1956, Hurricane Betsy in 1965, Hurricane Georges in 1998, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, and Hurricane Gustav in 2008, with the flooding in Betsy being significant in a few neighborhoods.
New Calais experiences snowfall only on rare occasions. A small amount of snow fell during the 2004 Christmas Eve Snowstorm and again on Christmas (December 25) when a combination of rain, sleet, and snow fell on the city, leaving some bridges icy. Before that, the last White Christmas was in 1964 and brought 4.5 inches. Snow fell again on December 22, 1989, when most of the city received 1–2 inches.
The last significant snow fall in New Calais was on the morning of December 11, 2008.
As of the census of 2010, there were 419,568 people; per the 2010 census, 159,435 households, and 96,081 families residing in the city. The 2010 population density was 5,257.7 people per square mile. There were 98,671 housing units at an average density of 1342.4 per square mile. According to the 2010 the racial makeup of the city was 50.4% Black or African American, 40.8% White, 0.5% Native American, 3.5% Asian, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino were 3.5% of the population. Non-Hispanic Whites were 37.8% of the population, down from 70.5% in 1970.
Of all households, 28.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.8% were married couples living together, 19.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.8% were non-families. 31.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.12.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.4% under the age of 18, 17.5% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 90.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,368, and the median income for a family was $40,266. Males had a median income of $34,893 versus $23,115 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,512. About 18.0% of families and 24.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.4% of those under age 18 and 13.8% of those ages 65 or over.
At the 2005–2007 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates, 32.4% of the population had a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
A 2006 study by researchers at Talbot University and the University of California, Berkeley determined that there are as many as 10,000 to 14,000 illegal immigrants, many from Mexico, currently residing in New Calais.
A recent article released by The New Calais Chronicle indicated that the metropolitan area had undergone a recent influx of 5,300 households in the later half of 2006. While the area’s population has been on an upward trajectory since Katrina, much of that growth was attributed to residents fleeing New Orleans after Katrina. Many observers predicted that growth would taper off, but the data center’s analysis suggests that New Calais and the surrounding parishes are benefiting from an economic migration resulting from the global financial crisis of 2008–2009.
As of 2010, 90.31% of New Calais’s residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a primary language, while 4.84% spoke Spanish, 1.87% Korean, and 1.05% spoke French. In total, 9.69% of New Calais’s population age 5 and older spoke a mother language other than English.
New Calais’ colonial history of French settlement has resulted in a strong Catholic tradition. Catholic missions administered to slaves and free people of color, establishing schools for them. In addition, many late 19th and early 20th century European immigrants, such as the Irish, Germans, and some Italians, were Catholic. In New Calais the predominant religion is Catholicism. Within the Archdiocese of New Calais (which includes not only the city but the surrounding Parishes as well), 35.9% percent of the population is Roman Catholic. The influence of Catholicism is reflected in many of the city’s French cultural traditions, including its many parochial schools, street names, and architecture.
New Calais also notably has a distinctive variety of Louisiana Voodoo, due in part to syncretism with African and Afro-Caribbean Roman Catholic beliefs. The infamy of the voodoo practicing Bell family contributed to this, as did New Calais’ distinctly Caribbean cultural influences. Although the tourism industry has strongly associated Voodoo with the city, only a small number of people are serious adherents to the religion.
Jewish settlers, primarily Sephardim, were part of New Calais from the mid nineteenth century. Some migrated from the communities established in the colonial years in New Orleans; Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia. Jews from Eastern Europe came as immigrants in the late 19th and 20th centuries, most notably Friedrich Cohen, who after establishing himself in the city in the 1930s acted as a sponsor for many families fleeing Germany. By the 21st century, there were 5,000 Jews in New Calais. This number rose to 7,000 after Hurricane Katrina. In the wake of Katrina, all New Calais synagogues gained members.
New Calais’s largest industry is Aircraft manufacturing. The Northridge Industrial Park in New Calais is the third-largest Airplane manufacturer in the country; and is home to a number of other plants used in the manufacture of a number of Northridge subdivisions, including soda, candy and pharmaceuticals.
Other industries include Talbot & Co., a textile and clothing manufacturer, is headquartered in New Calais, along with Pharmaceutical Conglomerates TS Pharmaceuticals and White Heart, in fact after the Aircraft industry, the pharmaceutical industry is the second largest, and threatening to overtake Northridge. The Dow Chemical Company has a large plant in Iberville Parish near Plaquemine. NanYa Technology Corporation has a large facility in the Northridge Industrial Complex that makes PVC and CPVC pipes. Blackwell Farms and Washington food also own large farms outside the city.
The city is also the home of Talbot University, one of the largest single employers in New Calais.
The research hospitals Stonybrook, Stonybrook Children’s Hospital (affiliated with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital), are positioning New Calais to eventually support a medical district similar to the Texas Medical Center. LSU and Talbot have both announced plans to construct satellite medical campuses in New Calais to partner with Stonybrook Medical Center and New Calais General Medical Center, respectively.
The film industry in Louisiana has increased dramatically in the last decade, in response to generous tax incentives adopted by the state in 2002. In September 2013 the New Calais Film Commission reported that the industry had brought more than $90 million into the local economy in 2013. New Calais’s largest production facility is the German Cross Media Center, opened in 2006 by a local group in collaboration with Raleigh Studios of Los Angeles; Raleigh dropped its involvement in 2014.
The major daily newspaper is The Chronicle, publishing since 1925. Prior to October 1991, New Calais also had an evening newspaper, The Times d’Iberville—at that time, the morning paper was known as “The Morning Chronicle.” Other publications include: Incognito, German Review, Healthcare Journal of New Calais and Talbot University Digest.
Greater New Calais area is well served by television and radio. Sharing its market with Baton Rouge and is the 95th largest Designated Market Area (DMA) in the U.S. Major television network affiliates serving the area. New Calais specific Affiliates include
New Calais also offer local Government-access television (GATV) only channels on Cox Cable. Calais 23 on channel 23, Cox 4 on channel 4, and Catholic Life on channel 15.
Crime and safety
See also: New Calais Criminal Organizations
Crime has been recognized as an ongoing problem for New Calais, although the issue is outside the view of most visitors to the city: as in other cities in the United States of comparable size, the incidence of homicide and other violent crimes is highly concentrated in certain impoverished neighborhoods, such as housing projects.
Across New Calais, homicides peaked in 2004 at 97 murders per 100,000 residents. By 2009, despite a 11% decrease in violent crime in the city, the homicide rate remained among the highest in the United States, at between 60 and 67 per 100,000 residents. In 2010, New Calais was 49.1 per 100,000, and in 2012, that number climbed to 53.2. This is the highest rate among cities of 250,000 population or larger.
The Santos crime family has dominated organized crime in the city since before the Prohibition era and reached its peak during the 1940s and 1950s as an affiliate of the Chicago Syndicate but has gradually declined since then with the rise of various black and Hispanic gangs.
According to the New Calais Police Department, the city is home to 6,800 gang members, organized into 60 gangs. Among them are the Sangres Azul, a multiethnic Hispanic gang and the Green Lawn Motor Club, a biker gang that got its start in the 1940s, both of which originated in Green Lawn. Latino gangs such as the Ochos Locos and the Filhos de Bruja, which is mainly active outside the city are a powerful influence across southern New Calais. The West Gate Disciples has a predominately black membership but is also multiethnic. The newest and potentially most dangerous street gang is the Black Stars, a Korean street gang based out of Overbend known for its violence.
Many of these gangs are allied, with the Sangres and the Disciples acting as distributors for the Bruja and GLMC respectively, the trend seems tied to the drug trade, which doesn’t apply to the Locos (a gang that seems to have its own source for narcotics) or the Dark Stars (Who seem to have found a niche as human traffickers) as both gangs are characterized by their ultraviolence and their territoriality.